Among all the inconveniences with concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, head coach Kim McNeill of the East Carolina University women’s basketball team said recruitment of members has become especially different.
“It’s been a lot of watching film, which I’m not really good at,” McNeill said. “I’d rather see a kid play in person and be able to talk to them face-to-face versus watching film and doing Zoom calls.”
Since the campus was shut down and the inability to travel to other schools, McNeil said there is a limited number of options as far as how to observe players. It’s a similar issue for the players as well. She said since they cannot visit campus, it is more difficult to find a fit.
The team video coordinator Andrew Yates has been making videos of the campus and practice facilities to send to recruits, according to McNeill.
“It (COVID-19) has made it very different,” McNeill said. “Does it affect us one way or the other? I can’t really say that because we have gotten four commitments, which is obviously a very good position for us to be at this time of the year with the signing period not being until November. I’m extremely excited about that.”
McNeill said out of the four commits, only one of them has been on ECU’s campus. The rest have been treated with videos and Zoom meetings during the pandemic. He said the commits are currently only verbal commitments and cannot be named as a result.
To add on to the already difficult factors of the pandemic, schedules have continued to change and each varies by location. McNeill said she does not foresee the team hitting the court until January.
However, highschool teams have varying schedules that may not be the same as the Pirates. According to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA), the basketball regular season will be from Jan 4 to Feb 19 with a limit of 14 games on the year. Typically, the high school season spans from mid-October to early March according to past NCHSAA calendars.
“I think the new age of recruiting is just going to be off of film,” McNeill said. “We receive so many different films and videos everyday through email. Kids are still playing AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and what they are doing is live streaming them. So we are having to pay a fee to be able to watch them play on a live stream. Some of the quality is better than others.”
The current roster for the Pirates has met and the players continue to practice with safety in mind. According to McNeill, the full team was able to return to campus at the end of July. Practice has been in small groups with little contact in order to insure safety. She said she loves the energy in the gym and it is “completely different from last year.”
McNeill pointed out the new depth and talent on the squad for this season. The
Pirates are working hard through the struggles of the pandemic, and she is impressed with the team’s effort.
“(Athletic Director) Jon Gilbert and his administration has done an unbelievable job in a tough time,” McNeill said. “The thing that they have always put first is the health and safety of the student-athletes.”
"We will continue to monitor all of our student-athletes on campus and take all the necessary actions to follow all safety protocols established at the local, state and national levels," Gilbert said in the press release.